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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 20, 2014 8:00pm-10:01pm EDT

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tonight, hearing on bonuses paid to executives at the department of veterans affairs. then from the faith and freedom coalition conference, kevin mccarthy, faith and freedom coalition chairman, ralph reed, and formle presidential candidate, rick santorum. >> mere nearly 80% of senior executives at the adapt of veteranses affairs received bonuses, some as high as $60,000, the secretary for human resources answered questions about the department's policy on bonuses during a house veterans affairs committee hearing. it ran one hour and 40 minutes. >> thank you all for being here this morning. we had planned on a business
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meeting this morning to subpoena two sets of documents from the va that were long-standing requests from the committee, but yesterday va delivered information regarding the removal of six ses employees for the past two fiscal years. this request has been made by multiple members of this committee, including myself, and multiple hearings going back to february. this morning va delivered the second set of documents which i requested via letter in october of 2013. the documents cover the performance reviews for each ses individual for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. although va's response to my request and your request was delayed, their production of the requested materials is sufficient and, therefore, after consultation with the ranking member, we'll no longer be having a business meeting this morning. so this morning's full hearing
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is entitled pea review of awarding bonuses to senior executives at the department of veterans affairs." this morning, we're going to examine the outlandish bonus culture at the va, and the larger organizational crisis that seems to have developed from awarding performance awards to senior executives despite the fact that their performance failed to deliver on our promise to our veterans. as the committee's investigation into the department continues, and new allegations and coverups are exposed, it's important that we examine how the department has arrived at the point where it is today. sadly, it's a point which has eroded veterans' trust and america's confidence in va's execution of its mission. part of the mistrust centers on a belief that va employees are motivated by financial incentives alone, and i can certainly see why that perception is out there. it appears as if va's performance review system is
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failing the veterans that they're supposed to be serving. instead of using bonuses as an award for outstanding work on behalf of our veterans, cash awards are seen as an entitlement, and have become irrelevant to the quality work product. i know we all agree that preventible patient deaths delays in car and continueam bag logs of disable claims, cost overruns and construction delays for va facilities and deliberate behavior to falsify data are not behaviors that should be rewarded. yet despite startling issues that continue to come to light, as well as numerous past ig and gao reports highlighting these same issues,
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the regional director who oversaw the va pittsburgh operation at the time, collected a $63,000 bonus. the average american, $63,000 is considered to be a competitive annual salary, not a bonus. the medical center director in dayton, ohio, received a nearly 12,000 cozy bonus despite an investigation into veterans exposure to hepatitis b and c under this watch. the director of the atlanta va center received 6 $5,000 in performance bonuses over his four years there. the former director of the va
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regional office in waco, texas, received more than $53,000 in bonus. while under his tenure the average disabilities claims processing time multiplied to inexcusable levels at the waco office. unfortunately i could goo on and on. these are not the only instances of those charged with managing va programs and healthcare facilities failing far below short of the quality that vas and their families deserve. so in short, there are far too many examples that prove that bonus does not ensure good performance. as we have previously heard from several witnesses in this committee, including one from va, the quest for monetary gain rather than public service has led to data manipulation, secret lists designed to create a false impression of quality health care that is timely and responsive to veterans. this is scandalous. even criminal.
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i would argue that it runs far deeper than just phoenix. today we'll explore the circumstances rounding the award and eventual rescission of a performance bonus award provided to the former director of the va medical center in phoenix, arizona. miss sharon hellman. in 2014 she was given an $8,500 bonus for her performance during fiscal year 2013. only after allegations against miss hellman came to light as a result of this committee's work, did a con shen sunday va employee -- con shen sunday va employee examine whether she received a bonus in 2013. when we questions the award va determined she was given there is bonus due to an administrative error. however, past documents stated
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reward are reviewed and signed by the secretary. furthermore, miss hellman's direct supervisor, former 18 network director susan bowers stated in may that sharon hellman received her bonus for a highly successful rating and improving access concerns and wait lists. perhaps we should also question miss bower's qualifications. these stories do not match up and i believe it further brings into question va's transparency as well as diligence when issuing thousands of dollars in bonuses. although acting secretary gibson has put a freeze own bone e bonuses it is still the committee0s responsibility to understand the rationale for awarding five-fig bonuses to individuals who have clearly fallen short of the department's mission and their commitment to those who have served. a performance bonus award should
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not be received because you are able to check off a few boxes on a form. a performance award should not be an expectation. a bonus is not an entitlement. those at the department of veterans affairs are there to serve the veterans and their families. anything less than the highest possible quality should not be rewarded. gaming the bonus system is not the business that the va should be in. today we'll hear what va has to say about their performance review system, why senior managers who have overseen failure have received thousands of dollars in bonuses, and how these large performance bonuses could have led to the terrible situation the department is now in. with that i now recognize the ranking member for his opening statement. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, for having this hearing. i want to thank the witness for coming this morning as well. michael in his book entitle "the
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greatest management principles ever" said, and i quote, the things that get measured are the things that get done. end of quote. we're seeing the statement borne out rechatesly within the va in a very negative way. as witnesses have stated in recent hearings, va's focus on unrealistic wait time measured resulted in employees manipulating the system to make it seem like they were meeting the measured standards. the book went on to stay in a later book, and i quote, the things that get measured and reward are the things that get done well, end of quote. today we're going to look at the second piece, how va senior executives are awarded and how the system does or does not incentivize things to get done well. before we get into that discussion, let me also recognize that there are a lot of va employees who do things well. as we shine the light on those
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who do not, let me pause for a moment and shine a brighter light, more positive light, on the hard working employees at va who do things well. and we must not forget that. and to them i say, thank you for your service, and for setting an example and hopefully all employees within the va look at keeping their bottom line on how to serve the veterans. with that, mr. chairman, i know we have votes this morning so i ask unanimous consent my remainder of me remarks be in the record. >> we'll hold opening statements should you have one and will be entered into the record. we have one panelless, gina affarisi, the assistant secretary for human resources and administration at the department of veterans affairs. i ask you would please stand, raise your right hand.
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do you solemnly swear under penalty of personalry the testimony you're about to provide is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? thank you, you may be seated. your complete written statement will also be made part of the record. thank you for being here this morning, secretary, and you're recognized for five minutes. >> chairman miller, ranking member michaud, distinguished members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee to discuss va senior executive performance management system. i want too express on behalf of the va wolk force our commitment to the department's veterans. to accomplish this mission we must recruit and retain thebes talent. many of whom require special skill thursday health care, information technology, and benefits delivery. in particular, va requires talented senior executives to manage the complex set of va facilities and programs. we are competing in public and private labor markets for
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skilled personnel to remain competitive in recruiting and retaining we must rely on tools such as incentives and rewards that recognize superior performance. how much we also acknowledge we must do a better job in holding or employees and leaders accountable. our senior leadership must become more engaged in managing executive performance plans to include counseling, mid-year assess. s and documentation. we realize that improvement in ses performance management also serves as a model for the general schedule work force performance if a appraisal process. the key is stringent and precise implementation and oversight of all performance plans whether for executive or general employee. equally important is training programs for executives. performance management has many challenges. it is very subjective and complex, and used to identify superlative and poor performers and is the foundation of development and mentoring. senior executives must
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understand how to draft good critical elements for their subordinates that are practical for perform maintenance management purposes and must understand the process and now how to document assessments so that decisions on poor performers will be defensible. leaders must confidently communicate directly with the subordinate and prevail during the due process steps that follow such decisions. the va is fortifying existing efforts to train executives on the fundamentals of performance management. we cannot assume or executives are skilled in these areas. our executives must receive frequent and better training on the performance process and guidance on confronting poor performers. the data shows that va's emplex addition of the se uss process has become more rigorous. from 2010 to 2013 the va restitutioned the rating from 30's to 21% and have an opm certified senior executive
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performance appraisal system. so receive section agencies must demonstrate adherence to policies 234 evaluation of senior executives and distribution of awards. agencies must make meaningful distinctions in the performance plans. the certification is rig royce and failure to achieve certification has significant consequences to an agency. monetary awards were designed to be part of compensation that is the premise of pay for performance law. failure to recognize value and performance puts va at risk of accelerating retirement, transfer to other agencies or the private sector of some of the department's most effective senior talent. the process va uses is described in any written testimony but irwant to touch on the high points. the va has uniformity in evaluating executives and has a single performance managements system for title 5 and title 38
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employees. we have published standards for the five ratings. presently va certified performance approvals system goes beyond the minimum standards in they add reviewing officials which is not required. this reviewing official is responsible for highlighting any areas of disagreement with the rating official and providing a certificate more senior review in addition, the department formed performance review committees that conduct an initial review of appraisals prior to the review by the va performance review board. the addition of a review by the va committee's prior to the va board is an added feature that was a consistency throughout the va lines of business. we're also currently refining our policy on deferred ratings to ensure clear, concise guidance on the process, step by step inch closing, it is clear that va must do a better job of holding our executives and employees conditionable --
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accountable for poor performance. va cannot assume that our executives are adequately skilled in performance managements so we're taking steps to refine our training cureses to address the shortfalls in order to better serve or veterans va must continue to attract and retain the best and brightest leaders. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you very much for being here with us. you, according to your testimony from fy2010 through 2013, not a single member of the ses, a pool of 470 individuals, received a less than fully satisfactory or successful rating. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> knowing what we know now, about the fraudulent actions being taken at facilities acrossing this country, that have harmed our veterans do you think the department's assessment that 100% of senior managers at va have been fully
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successful in the past four years is in line with reality? >> mr. chairman, if we knew what we knew today at that time, it is unlikely that there performance would reflect what it reflected at the time the reports were written. >> do you go back and change a performance review based on information that is gathered after the fact? >> mr. chairman, you cannot go back and change a rating once it has been issued to an employee as the final rating. >> even if there's information that was hidden from the raters? >> enif there's -- >> is that a law or rule. >> it's a law. >> a law that needs to be changed? >> there are other ways to discipline employees for misconduct. if you find -- >> wait, wait. you're telling me if you find out somebody does something that specifically harms veterans, is
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potentially criminal, that the department's position is you would not go back and change somebody's rating if you had the ability to do that? >> if we had the authority we would use all authorities provided to us. >> so my question to you is that something you would recommend this committee do, is to look into having the law change so you can go back and change performance reviews. >> mr. chairman, if that was across the federal government i could agree with that. >> well, we're focused on the va. okay? and the va ain't been doing very well lately. and i would hope that the anger and the frustration i hear in the acting secretary's voice would filter through every employee and especially in the central office. things have to change. we can't keep dollar it the way it's being done. >> i concur, mr. chairman. >> you're aware this committee has spent considerable time looking at the outbreak of
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legionaire's disease in pittsburgh, where it has been proven there were at least six preventible deaths. >> yes, mr. chairman. >> during this time period mr. moreland, the director, had the responsibility of overseeing this facility and was given a one-time $63,000 bonus. are you aware of that? >> i am aware of it. >> during questioning at a september 9th field hearing in pittsburgh, then the undersecretary told this committee it was his understanding that secretary shinseki did not have the authority to rescinds the bonus but he would look into that. are you aware another of that. >> i am. >> are you aware of anybody else request questioning the authority to rescent bonuses. >> no, mr. chairman. >> anyone ask the office of general counsel? >> mr. chairman, i'm not aware. >> safe to say that dr. petzel thought his own legal counsel on
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the matter and never looked it's at up. >> i would assume he discussed this with general counsel. general counsel's views when i had talked to them about rescinding bonuses, that rescinding awards based on a rating that was already given to an employee in finality is we have no authority to take the rating back, nor the award, which is a result of that rating. >> how do we take miss hellman's bonus back? >> miss hellman's bonus was erroneously released. the va does have a standard operating procedure of any employee who has an investigation ongoing that we have been made aware of by the ig or equal opportunity or other venues, we put them on a deferred list. miss hellman's name was on the did he everred 2013 list. her rating should not have been released. it was never said that was her
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final rating. it was not her final rating and because it was not final, we took the opportunity to rescind that rating. we worked with general counsel and also opm. it is unprecedented for that to have happened, but based on the fact that the va has a standard operating procedure of maintaining deferred ratings, it was proven that was not a final rating that was determined by the secretary to be released. >> is it final now? >> it is not, chairman. >> can you explain why? >> it was rescinded in her name is still on the defender deferred list. until the investigation is complete no decision will be made on the rating. >> she still is employed by the adapt of veterans affairs and being paid her full salary. >> she is. >> you don't believe that it was extenuating circumstances or --
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i forgot the term you used -- that dr. moreland, who oversaw the division, he got a $63,000 bonus and nobody thought that was worth looking into to see if that could be rescinded? >> mr. chairman, i can't answer that. i wasn't there when that award was given. >> okay. thank you. mr. michaud. >> thank you very much. once again, thank you for your testimony. sometime my colleagues use the words like bonus, award, and performance pay, interchangeably. but i understand they are different. can you please explain -- describe to us the different categories of additional pay available to va senior executives? >> yes, i can. there are several different kind of incentives. there are relocation, recruitment and retention
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incentives that can be given in proper situations to employees. there are standards that we must meet in order to provide any of those incentives. for our health care, doctors and dentists, they receive what is called market pay in performance pay which are in addition to a base pay. they all have different complex ways of calculation but a normal title 5 employee is not authorized for those pay. that is only for physicians and dentists. >> title 38 employee. >> title 38, yes, sir. >> what is -- can you discuss the performance award bonus initiatives in the tiered pay? >> the tiered pay for our awards is based on the rating. the highest rating being outstanding and then exceeds fully successful and then fully successful. a determination is made by the secretary at which level he will
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provide awards based on the ratings. for the last two years employees who received exceeds fully successful and outstanding were the employees who received awards. those awards are calculated at different percentages. part of the certification system by opm requires that there be a differentiation made between levels of performance and those awards to the employees. >> what's the difference between a performance award and a bonus? >> we don't use the word bonus. we only use the word performance award. >> so you don't -- so just performance award. who is eligible -- when you look at this issue -- i just got a dish received a letter on the 19th from the senior executive association and what was interesting in it is partway
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through it says, reports for claiming large bonuses for senior executives at the va often failed to note that few employees on the list provided are title five, which are sess. that largest nearly all the large bonuses are for title 38 employees. so, what are the criterias used to determine who is provided each? different with title 5 versus title 38? >> congressman, as far as the bonuses for title 5 and title 38, when we look at our ses performance awards system, they are the same. they would fall under the same categories of outstanding, exceeds fullied andful, felly successful and those percentages. what is different about title 38 employees is in addition to performance awards, they can receive market pay and a
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performance pay that is based on a separate contract if they are health professionals, a physician or dentist, with their superior at the medical center. so they have things in addition to title 5, which are not -- not part of the performance appraisal system i was speaking of. >> some of the criteria for opm certification includes alignment linking individual performance, objective to organizational missions, second is results that is performance expectation are linked to outcome, and number three, the overall agency performance that is linked between an individual performance, objectives and overall agency performance. if va receives opm certification, it must have met these criterias in aggregate. how do you explain the specific failures to this committee that
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we have been -- have discovered recently over the past several months? >> congressman, as people received awards based on their performance appraisal, those decisions were based on them meeting critical elements written in their performance plans, and proven by metrics, the words written in their performance appraisals by their superior, that is with the performance review committee, and performance review board saw, basically the four corners of the paper, what was written, and that is what they went by. >> okay, thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very minute. -- dr. rowe, you're wreck nearsides. >> let me start by asking dish looked from fy2010 to fy2013. you mentioned in your rating system, outstanding, exceeds fully successful. i did the personals and they're unchanged. you just changed the name a little bit if and you add the
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outstanding and exceedses actually successful it was 73%. if you look at 2013 it's 78%. actually went up. so, that means there's an expectation, and it's varied between 75 and 73. so you didn't change anything other than the very top rating so that the bonus or performance award or whatever you want to call it went down just a little bit. so fully 80% of people got an award and were exceptional out of 470. do you think that's normal in business, that every single executive is exceptional? >> congressman, i can't answer that question about business. >> i mean, the awards here seem to say that. if you look at your own data -- i'm not making this up. this is your dat to --...
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is that, a performance award, whenever you want to call that, mi sending veterans to the outside, private care, is that part of the metric? no one has answered that question. is it yes or no? >> congressman, i do not know and will ticket for the record. >> thank you for that. you mentioned, at least, in the evaluations that you have, the elements outlined for leading chains, leading people, results
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driven to mothers of the metric see go by. what are the specifics in there? how are they set up? all of that sounds good, but what do you actually have to do? 810,000 or in some cases $60,000 bonus? >> congressman, in each of the performance plans their is a template that goes out that sets the guidance for a strategy for va and what the employees must do to tie their organization and individual performance of the strategies of va. that is how it is determined. if they succeed there are different critical elements -- >> yeah decides that? >> is starts with the secretary, who will put out a va strategy plan and guidance, and then it is given to the administration. they put additional metrics into their template. >> can i ask you this question, fraudulent, if you knowingly cook the books which is apparently what happened in
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arizona -- because if you do that with the irs -- let me give you an example. if he falsely claimed deductions you do not have, let me tell you what will happen to you. you will get penalized, pay the taxes, and you might go to jail. do you think that happens to people who fraudulently put out information that led to the deaths of people a lot worse than not paying your taxes, do you think that is part of what we should be doing here today, looking at people who absolutely game to the system so that they could make extra money and veterans not get care? that is what will happen to other government agencies. >> congressman, i believe when these investigations are complete the active secretary will ensure there will be accountability for this. >> that is not an answer. it accountability to what? what does that mean? the question i ask is, right now , today in the irs, you know
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this, if you and i put something down wrong and are audited we will pay back taxes, penalties, and we might go to jail if it is really bad. the question i have is, should that metric, that same standard applied to people who are in the va who fraudulently have done this, if they have? >> if given that authority, i am sure it would be used, congressman. >> okay. thank you. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ms. gina farrisee, can you tell me how many employees under title five -- title five is what we are talking about, title five employees who were invited in it -- involved in the bonus system. another is -- title iv employees are the ones who were in charge of managing and responsible for
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the schedule. how many employees receive bonuses? >> across the complete ? >> well, give me the ses number first. >> actually receive -- about 78%, but that includes title v and title xxxviii. >> okay. but with regard to the accountability for the gaming of the system, i am trying to get a handle on how many employees are sort of accountable for that? i mean, i am thinking that title xxxviii are the providers, you know, medical practitioners that for other reasons are getting paid beyond their base pay, right? >> correct, but it is possible there are some title xxxviii employees involved as well.
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>> okay. but the idea of how many employees were involved. >> overall, i do not have that number, but i will take it for the record. >> of kuwait. >> the ig has not completed their investigation. >> well, how much of the -- i mean, we have talked somewhat about how the incentives may be should be based on outcomes rather than these metrics. i am trying to get a handle on why the metrics we lost control. i have heard testimony that had to do with the technology, that we had a scheduling system that was easy to gain. is that your assessment, to? >> i do not know enough about the scheduling system to make that assessment. >> okay. well, -- because i would just wonder if the number of employees involved made it very difficult for anyone to, you
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know, look at how people were scheduled, how veterans were scheduled, and if there are a lot of employees, i can imagine that scheduling components of the vista system apparently was vulnerable to this sort of gaming, but you don't -- this is not your expertise. >> unfortunately it is not, congressman. >> well, what other incentives could va hughes two recruit and retain health care providers beyond bonuses and performance pay? >> we have recruiting in sentiments, relocation, retention incentives once they are on board. we have authorities from 0:00 p.m. to give those types of incentives for hiring difficult to fill positions, locations, and skills. >> we know that they lose health care providers to the department
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of defense. why hasn't the va considered increasing the base pay of the va health care employees so that they receive comparable pay? >> i am not aware that it is not comparable pay to dod. i will have to look at that. >> i appreciate that. i just want to know if that is true. as the va considered offering other incentives such as loan repayment or increased pay for va providers once they work in under-served areas? >> we have not looked at that, congressman. >> well, that is interesting. my understanding is a rural areas and underserved areas -- well, we do not know enough about the investigation to know how this gaming of the system messes up whether we are seeing the manipulation of wait times more prevalent in these
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underserved rural areas. what additional professional opportunities could the va offer of health care providers recruit and retain those who are dedicated to serving veterans? >> i think we are doing things like market pay, which gives them an additional pay to the base pay, the performance pay, the contracts they do, all of that gives them additional pay for us to try to meet the extern payments. we will never meet, but we try to make it more attractive. >> thank you. >> thank you, representative takano. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and really to observations, and i want to say, there are probably not a lot of people having these discussions. i don't think there are a lot of people on this committee that really have much faith in a lot of the metrics that we use va
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wide because i know that we all go through whether it is our health centers or regional offices and are totally confused by any metric they throw at us. and to be able to award performance awards off of those type of metrics are mind-numbing to meet. stickleback to what representative roe said, and i think you testified to it, they are sending back a template, the secretary said the representative wenstrup templates. how low is that are really? obviously in my past career we have performance incentives all the time. we had several tiers of it. we would have two categories, likely to be earned and unlikely to be earned, and it would actually count against the salary cap of that team.
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it was not either all in war all out. there were tears, but i just want to -- and i will end here and really don't have a question. i just want to say, to be able to have something, said a bar that low and not be able to really come naturally measured, you know, incentives a great. and i do not think anyone here would agree that uniformly across the va that they are being applied equally. and you have said it, too. it is very subjective. the basis of it is getting the facts. then i think that we are so far away from that at this point. i really don't even have a question for you because until we fix that having the discussion about performance incentives -- you cannot even
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have the discussion because there is no basis of fact to have it on. with that, i yield back. >> thank you very much. representative kuster, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for your testimony today. i feel like we are experiencing what they would call in the academic world grade inflation or what garrison would refer to as all of the children are above average. coming from the private sector, it is hard for me to believe that 80 percent of employees can be either outstanding or this other category that is above and beyond what the expectation is, and it makes me feel like the expectation is lowered to a place that does not serve our veterans the way that we had wished. but i want to focus in on where we go from here and how we can fix this problem because obviously this is a bipartisan
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issue. we are all concerned. fortunately this is one of the few bipartisan committees where we can work together and make a difference. my concern lies in how we can fix this situation or help the va to fix this situation because it does not appear that the policies provide for a methodology to make this kind of change. and by that what i mean is that we have had some oversight, but at the end of the day it does not seem to change. and i am just wanting to make reference to the va today is unable to ensure that although they identified problems that the problems will be corrected in do not reoccur. this is a review of one medical center. a year later there were
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identical problems. you do not end up with a change. i want so focus in on, is there ever an opportunity in the system that we have now where 80 percent of the people get enhanced pay. is there ever an opportunity for reduction or denial of this enhanced pay? and just moving forward, now that we know what we do know, what will be the consequences to people that, frankly, were lying and cheating and stealing of the veterans' health care and taxpayers hard-learned dollars? >> thank you for that question. i do believe there is room for change through training our senior executives and understanding critical elements but in the performance plan in establishing very real goals and
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metrics we have talked about and ensuring our metrics are not too low and, in fact, you must perform to reach that exceed an outstanding rating that we pay much more attention and have no automated the system of performance appraisal. i personally could not see them until they came into hard copy. this is the first year. it is an automated system. we will do a lot more training with senior executives on with these critical elements mean and how performance review committees and boards need to view these metrics. >> and what of the lack of performance? can someone lose their job? can they get docked pay? is there any capacity in the system to take action when performance is less than stellar, which apparently it is for 80 percent of the people? >> yes, congressman, there is absolutely a process to do that. >> what does that entail, how
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someone would get fired? >> intel's a proposal of removal as we are talking about removing someone from the federal government. that employee would have a right to respond, a 30 day notice. they can respond early. in that paper then goes to the deciding official. we take into consideration what the employee says and a decision maker will make within 30 days a decision on the personal action to happen. depending on what the evidence is for what the employee has done wrong, there is a range of things that you can do to an employee. >> with criminal conduct be evidence of lack of performance? >> it would be misconduct. >> and would misconduct be sufficient for someone to lose their position? >> if the evidence proves that through investigation, yes, that is possible. >> and now about lying to the
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extent that it was not a crime but it was certainly harmful to veterans being able to get access to care? >> there is certainly a range of punishment, and depending upon all of the details of that it is possible they could be proposed for removal depending, again, on the evidence in detail. >> thank you. my time has expired. >> thank you very much. representative benishek, you are recognized for five minutes. >> i think you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here, ms. farrisee. there was testimony in february of this year in the subcommittee on health that six ses employees had been voluntarily remove the last two years. we tried to get the information as to what the details are of that and have not. are you aware of this? >> congressman, you did receive that yesterday.
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the committee did receive that yesterday. >> okay. [laughter] so, if that is correct that six people were removed and not a single person in the ses receive less than a satisfactory rating, how did that removal take place? >> removals, once they were removed they did not receive a rating, so they would not show up and having received a less than satisfactory rating. when you see numbers that show no one -- unsatisfactory ratings it is misleading because those plot -- employees simply did not follow up. >> you are telling me that there is actually unsatisfactory ratings with the arch is not listed? >> congressman, once someone the parts they do not -- >> that is not accurately depicting what is going on. let me ask you this question.
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this is from my briefing. an ses employee works with their supervisors to create a performance review plan for each fiscal year. and then they raised their own performance on each critical element at the end of each fiscal year. >> yes, congressman. >> then that is then reviewed by their direct supervisor. >> by their direct supervisor, writing official -- >> so they rate themselves? >> they put down all of their accomplishments -- >> right, but the rate themselves according to this. then that processes reviewed by their direct supervisor. >> it is. >> is that approved or disapproved? >> correct. >> the direct supervisor does not actually write a performance review themselves. the employee rights the performance review and the supervisor allows or disallows it. is that what happened?
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>> the portion on the appraisal, there is self assessment on their that is optional. the employee can put as self assessment in there, but -- >> says that usually occur? >> in some, not all. >> have you ever been involved in this process personally? >> i am just being involved in it since i have arrived at the va personally. i just finished doing my own ses appraisal plan. we are at the point of turning in our plan right now. >> how long have you been there? >> since september. >> so you have not been the direct supervisor to anyone that has on their own plan? >> i am doing it now. >> you are doing your own plan. direct supervisor? >> i am, and my deputy has provided to me is planned.
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we are not to the point of writing the final appraisal yet. >> do you think it is a good idea that the employees themselves rights their own plan is seems to me that that would lead to an 80% percentage of people getting good results. >> congressman, i understand. but before that plan is written there is discussion with the rating in the rate terror. they do not go off and write a plan without some sort of discussion of what is reasonable and what should be considered exceptional. >> that is what you say. the guy writes his own plan. if i do this, this, and this will be successful and accomplishes that even better and then gets a superior rating. this whole -- i mean, the question that was previously brought up here in the committee, you tend to think that there is not a real rating
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going on. everyone is getting a good rating. you know, i am concerned over the fact that people are writing their rom review plan and it just gets checked by the supervisor. and then the numbers that you present to us are not accurate. you know, 0%, 6 people removed is inconsistency with your testimony and that of the doctor very concerning to me. we get inconsistent answers. it makes as not want to trust anything that comes from you people. >> mr. congressman, the numbers that we provide it as far as the ratings are where there is actually in prison plan. we did not do those on the individual some who have departed. that is why they do not show up in the numbers.
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>> very disappointing to me to get these answers from you to today. >> thank you. ma'am, you said that the self evaluation or senior executive self assessment is optional. are you sure? >> as part of that plan there is -- >> i am looking at the performance appraisal form, a senior executive performance appraisal form. >> 3482? >> yes. 3482. >> and there are raging official narrative's. >> i guess the only place i see that is optional is it the person is asking for a higher-level review for pay or it is an optional to put a letter of input. the other to section, section three senior executives self assessment does not appear to be optional.
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form 3482. section three senior executive self assessment. describe your accomplishments, out comes to our results. i think you just told representative benishek that was optional. is it? >> i am going to take that back. can i get back with you? >> yes, you can. >> five minutes. >> think you, mr. chairman. now i cannot understand you have only been in this position for a short amount of time. were you and human resources before the va?
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>> i was not. i retired from the army. >> thank you. it has been widely reported in newspapers that a regional director in pittsburgh received a performance pay award of $62,000. you are aware of that? >> i am. >> i am just trying to do the calculations. i will add $62,000 is the median income the county are represented is $76,000. so i just want to state that for the record. a few -- if this employee receives $60,000 a bonus, in your testimony you said the performance they cannot exceed 20% of the base salary for an ses employee, then if you do the math on that than the base salary is over $300,000. >> yes, congressman. that was because of a presidential rank award.
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>> and what is special about that? >> very few of those are given each year. >> that does not follow any of the rules that we have been talking about. >> and it is not an award given by the va. >> i see. so i know that this hearing is about performance pay, but there is also weighing retention incentive paid. >> yes, congresswoman. >> and the process for awarding retention incentives, i presume, differs from performance pay incentives. and so do you have the affirmation on what percentage of ses employees receive intention -- retention incentives last year? is that -- can they receive both retention pay and performance made? >> they can receive both,
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carver's woman. we currently have 40 out of 170 something who receive retention incentives. >> and is there a cannot exceed percentage for retention pay? >> there is. >> what is that? >> 25% of their salary per year, and can be given up to four years. >> are there other kinds of awards that are not -- that we are not aware of beyond performance and retention? >> relocation incentives. if you are asking, reassigning someone you can offer a relocation incentive and a recruitment incentive for people new rejoining the agency. >> and the -- is there a cannot exceed percentage? >> on all of them there is percentage and number of years that it can be given. that is across the federal government's. >> the -- in 2010 the va did its
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own review. can you just describe what specific actions were taken to reform and restructure the ses bonus structure from the results of their own internal review? >> i will have to take that for the record. >> similarly, the gao report in 2013 -- and i wanted to know what specific actions the va has taken to improve the performance pay policy since that was issued ? >> we updated our hand but that was missing some very key points that the gao pointed out and put out an updated handbook in march to include the everything they asked us to. >> can you describe some of those elements? >> one of the elements was not meeting a 90-day time frame in which you would council and talk about the performance pay and put a plan that must be done
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within 90 days. we do not have time friends in the handbooks and things were not being done according the policy. >> finally, have you, as the assistant secretary for human resources and administration and given the situation we are in currently, have you been able to assess the ig ability to investigate this just in terms of personnel and human-resources and do you believe that they have enough resources to do this ? >> i cannot personally assess this, but i have heard the ig in testimony say that he has enough resources to do this. >> but you do not do that as a practice to review their resources? >> not the ig. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you very much. representative wenstrup, you're recognized for five minutes. >> i think you, mr. chairman.
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i have some questions concerning the whole evaluation system, and i guess i can compare it to how the military does it with officers. you know, you can do a support form for your superiors. tart or what your goals were for the year. as i understand, that would be part of the process currently. and through the process with the military you have periodic meetings to see if you are achieving the goals and gives them the opportunity to add bowles. does that take place? >> that is correct. >> repay. >> do you think there is a point in time where the person is just pretty much writing their own evaluation and the reader is cutting and pasting and sending it off approved? do you think that happens within the system? i know you have not been there
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very long. >> i can't not -- i have not, so i cannot comment. >> that would be a concern of mine. i want you to fill that out and send it along to me, and we will be okay. i am also wondering how much the va core values come into play when it comes to evaluation. can you tell everyone what those core values are? >> care, integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, excellence. that is a part of our performance appraisal planned. >> is there a part in there where the ranger can then take those values and comment on those values on that person? >> yes. >> it seems to me that for some of the people, especially the part on integrity really fell short. yet some people got their performance payment. >> at the time it was written we
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may not have understood there was an integrity problem. as written right now, once the investigation is complete i would expect to see that on there. >> i was really just trying to understand your process more. thank you, and i yield back. >> thank you, congressman. >> thank you very much. representative ruiz, you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman for holding this hearing. thank you for being here. we know that the va decided 46,500 veterans in roldan that va health system in the past ten years have now received appointments and more than 56,200 veterans have been waiting more than 90 days for their first apartment at 85 medical facility. consequently senior executives who oversaw health care facilities were manipulating data and awarding bonuses based upon faulty wait times. representative wenstrup said they clearly demonstrated a lack of integrity. as an emergency room physician i
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am appalled at the thought of officials covering up the fact that they are not providing much needed medical care to our veterans and still obtaining bonuses. in an effort to get to the bottom of this reprehensible behavior and ensure these executives are responsible, i would like to know in what year bonuses started being tied to a scheduling metrics? >> i will have to take that for the record. >> it is important to know because you can clearly see the difference between pre and post bonus. things do not move very fast in the va, including behavior and performance, so it would be important to determine which facilities at those drastic changes. also, i spoke to some of my veterans back home. they're is a veteran, major will young, very respected man, good human being. he is in line with a veteran-centered approach which i agree with. this question is, are there any
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bonuses based on patient satisfaction feedback? >> i will have to take that for the record to see if that is a metric. >> okay. i think that there is -- we need a very drastic cultural change so that when that question is asked again, it should be in the top three answers as to what our va personnel are measured against. number one, too, and three, a patient-centered, patient- feedback bonus. has there been any acknowledges of the effect of bonuses on scheduling metrics? >> there has not been analysis to this point. >> okay. what was the exact criteria for awarding these bonuses regarding scheduling metrics? >> the scheduling matter, to
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mike understanding, was to have the schedule with them the 14-day time frame. >> okay. and, you know, i think my closing comments year -- and we are talking about bonuses. you know, my father worked in the fields, hard, manual labor, a mechanic in a truck driver, whenever took to put food on my table and pay for our education, something he did not have. and he taught me the value of an honest day's work. he said, son, whatever you do in life, work hard, be the best. honesty and integrity are the values of this country. and those are the values that america was founded on. allying to get a bonus prize in the face of our values as americans. i think that we really need to have some introspection within the va system to come back to those roots values that make this country great. thank you, and i yield back my
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time. >> thank you very much, doctor. representative cook, you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. there has been some conversation about the reports. it is written that you cannot undo that. can't you have a supplemental or special fitness report per say based upon certain circumstances under someone's watch? >> i am not aware of doing one in addition to their annual appraisal. >> so if something like this happens that shows character or unsatisfactory performances, nothing that goes in a jacket of that individual that gets these bonuses are what have you? >> that would be included in their current year -- >> no, i am talking about because of what happened, things that happened on their watch that they get a special report based upon unsatisfactory performance.
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no? okay. i just want to -- a couple of things here. we had a number of veterans testified maybe six weeks. i asked them basically -- i was using a comparison of the military being fully combat ready or not combat ready. i used it analogous to the va. everyone was here. across the board everyone who went down the line basically said, they are not mission capable, which everyone here, i think, has that same -- but it seems -- and we have talked about mission performance standards and everything, but we do not apply them. we are not taking care of veterans. that is the bottom line, and we are talking about all these intangibles. and we are not doing the job we're supposed to do. i want to ask you, have you ever heard the tune -- term truth teller? >> truth?
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>> teller. truth teller. in the military -- at least in the marine corps, you had everyone was outstanding, you write your own evaluation report. you let yourself be a truth teller takes everyone in the same rank, whoever is writing the evaluation, and you have to list them one, two, three, four, five. everyone here is outstanding, but some people are better than others. that evaluated has to do that, and i do not see that happening. i think that if you were going to give everyone bonuses on being outstanding. let me ask you a question, have you heard of the term bennie said? >> no, congressman. i have not. >> all right. i don't know, i guess if you have been around a long time, it meant beneficial suggestion. it was end at least the marine
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corps. i thought it was in the army, somewhere. a beneficial suggestion where you might get a promotion, you might get a bonus. and the suggestion was normally from one of the troops that knows what is going on. scheduling system is all screwed up for the following reasons, and this should be changed. block, block, block, block. instead of giving ratings that everyone is outstanding and might think you ought to look at this were the people that deal with this have an incentive to change it instead of an automatic bonus, if you will, that, quite frankly, when you do that i think it makes it ridiculous when a lot of people in this room, even the veterans themselves think that this administration is not performing the services that they are supposed to i got a -- let's see . going into some of the other
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things. you talked about core values and everything else. now, in the evaluation system going back to mission performance standards, about taking care of the veterans, is that part spelled out, the bottom line on the evaluation? you know, integrity is open to interpretation, but this is a yes or no. is this organization, your organization fully capable of taking care of veterans? and have they done that? is that part of the evaluation system or the evaluated process? >> not stated in those words, but it is part of the process. >> it is not stated -- >> in the exact words you just said, but our mission is to take care of veterans. >> do you think that has to be written over and over again? because right now from a cultural standpoint it does not seem to be happening.
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you go back down and start with that premise. it is like, we talked a lot about taking care of veterans, people on the battlefield, band of brothers, abandon sisters, it's a truck. that is what holds the military and veterans' together. >> congressman, i believe the majority of our employees to advocate for our veterans. >> i yield back. >> thank you very much. five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to start by continuing the line of questioning begun by representative roe, representative takano, and others and look at the local facility level, the hospital, the clinic. so many others are concerned about provider shortage and what it will take to attract and retain the best talent possible to serve the veterans we represent. and so i would like to understand how salaries and
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incentives are set for the providers, doctors, taught -- psychiatrists, nurses commander -- nurse practitioners and others to actually provide care for our veterans? >> it is a complex process evaluations on market peso that we can look at what the national pay is, and that is used in calculating what we recommend for pay. it is in addition to a base pay. if you are talking about ses and title v, there is no addition to any of your base pay. title xxxviii, physicians and dentists will receive in addition to base pay a market rate, which we must do the calculations to. also, they can receive a performance bay that has nothing to do with an award performance but is in the contract and objectives they must meet in order to receive that performance pay. >> and so apart from the formulas and calculations, does the local vh a director have
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discretion to deviate from those formulas to attract or retain someone needed in that community? >> they can request recruitment incentives and request relocation incentives or retention incentives. for someone may have on board already and want to keep, they can request those types of incentives. >> and is there any -- want to make sure i am using the right words. not bonus, but any incentive offered to the vh a director for returning money back to the va or coming in annually under budget are not spending a certain amount or over a certain amount in a certain category? >> i would not say an incentive. >> so no part of the age a director performance incentive is based on how they perform financially? >> they would need to stay within budget, absolutely. >> they're is penalty for going over, but no reward for coming under. >> not that i am aware of. >> one of the things we're
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trying to figure out is -- i brought this up repeatedly, we have a mental health care crisis and one that was confirmed by the vha audit released last week that showed we are the worst in the country for setting an appointment for an existing the veteran patient within the va for mental health care. fourth worst for any patient, second worst for specialty care. for those of us and help pass so it is not a surprise. what we have been told as providers and others within the va and el paso, they start to come to our office in many cases anonymously, a deep concern that the director is not providing those discretionary incentives to attract and retain people. so if we have these terrible performance measures in terms of being able to connect a veteran with the appointment, if we have
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a provider shortage with 19 and a half full time employees when i started a year-and-a-half ago it was 13 and a half as of last month. i am wondering how we can provide greater incentives or leverage or discretion to the local director to bonus or incentive providers to get them or keep them in the first place. any thoughts on how you might be able to do that? have the administration might be able to do that, or who we on the committee who are interested in this might propose or change legislation to do this? >> i would need to know what incentives they have already attempted if they have or if there is anything we can do to help them look at those incentives. >> we, again, had an acute -- we have an acute issue when it comes to providing mental health care at the el paso va, and we were told by an amount to five anonymous source that until we
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really start to push on the director who had not once deviated from the formula of recommendation for what you pay someone to practice medicine at the va in el paso. it was only through our pressure there was one deviation that ended up in hiring in much-needed psychiatrist in el paso. it is very hard to get direct dancers from the local vha and the administration, as we have seen. i look forward to following up with a defined know what those are, how we improve for change, the discretion, hold people accountable for performance given discretion and power they have. mr. chair, i yield back. >> thank you very much. representative walorski, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. you talked in your opening statement about stringent controls and clear standards of performance awards. in your opinion, what happened? >> on the awards? >> on the performance awards. how do we go from your opening
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statement of stringent control and clear standards and end up over here with this massive amount of money and the revelation of presidential awards and other awards, 20 and 25 percent of income, 80 percent of people receive them. was there any -- i no there was in september, but when you came in and over the past several months, as you look at the structure was there any red flags or alarms or inklings our gut feelings or anything that says, wow, this is a lot of money or anything to set off for red flag in your mind that something is really, really wrong? because it seems like it got away from the controls and fair standards. >> congresswoman, what i said in my opening remarks was we needed to have precise and stringent and clear standards. i feel that is what we need to do from here forward. i think we do need more stringent and precise written performance plans. >> but my question is, were you
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aware of that prior to this whole blow up at the va, that there was something out of line with the performance bonuses and that is why you needed this? >> no because prior to this year we did not have an automated system, so you cannot see these in advance. having the opportunity to see these in advance and be able to look at these across the board prior to the end of the year would allow us to have a better look and more precisely see if we have the correct metric if the right things are being done. >> i have a question on the presidential a word. does not come out of the va budget, correct? his budget does it come out of? >> i am not sure. i will come back to you on that. >> is there an allotment of money, do we know how many employers we have the received a presidential award? >> very few, but i will get you that number. >> appreciate it. could you also then get me for the state of indiana a list of all the ses-level employees and
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for the past five years their performance bonuses? >> i will gather that information. if it is reasonable absolutely we will release it to you. >> do you know how long it will take to get that? ballpark? >> a couple of weeks. >> okay. and so, as you look at this and we move forward and look at this whole question, you know, i echo the question by representative ruiz about when these incentives started when was this tied to the matrix of appointment times and also i am curious, when we look at this -- and i had heard in some news reports that this has only been in effect for couple of years. when we look at a place like phoenix where over the last three years there have been something like 10 million in bonuses. i am trying to get my arms around why that is not sending signals are red flags somewhere in the system on the performance bonuses? it is such an inordinate amount of money, even for just one place where this whole thing
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started with the investigation. it is unbelievable the amount of money. >> i have not confirmed the amount that has been spent, so i would have to go back to confirm >> upgrade. also, when you send information on the presidential bonuses i want to know what budget comes from, if they're is a cap on how much money comes from a presidential bonus, how many people receive it, how many years they get it, the details of that. >> it is coming. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you very much. i appreciate your legal answer. if it is pretty simple you will get it to representative walorski. let's make a deal. if you don't, we will subpoena it. >> i understand, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. representative titus, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to echo some comments that have been made by my colleagues and the concern about performance awards going to people who may or may not have earned them. i think it was the chairman who pointed out earlier that the
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director of vision 21 which oversees part of nevada it turned out had put false information on their rise in may about where she had gone to school and that she had not gone to school but rose through the ranks to be the director of that and that is an enormous task of overseeing tens of thousands of veterans stretching all the way from want to reno. i wonder if you could tell us how you verify people's resonates or when they file applications how do you look to be sure that this would not happen again this woman also received these bonuses as she moved up the ladder. i think she is having to give some of them back now. could you address that issue for us? >> congresswoman, when we receive resonance we call references. we do background checks. i just heard recently this week, had the opportunity to look into
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that matter. >> well, when you look into it would you get back to us? >> says, congress woman. >> thank you. along those same lines, the regional office in reno serves all the veterans of las vegas, which is where most of the veterans are in a state, but offices in reno. i am just wondering, if given the fact that that was one of the -- i think it was the fifth worst, but one of the worst in the country for the backlog there that took over 500 days. the way your reduce the backlog there was brokering out over half of the cases to other places around the country. you have hired 25 new people finally after we have been harping about this for a year-and-a-half. those are now in southern nevada but are overseen over the telephone by someone who is still in reno. this person has had a number of problems. surely this is not a record of success.
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can you tell me if there is anyone in that office who has gotten any of these performance bonuses over the last couple of years? >> i would have to get back to you on that, congresswoman. >> okay. also, recruitment incentives, would like to find out if they have gotten any of those incentives in addition to the just a bonus. >> yes, congresswoman. >> would you get back to me on that, please? >> as. >> i yield back. >> representative coffman for five minutes. >> i certainly thank you for being here before this committee here today. if i understand correctly, you oversee the personnel system within the department of veterans affairs and as part of that performance pay system or bonus system. am i correct in that? >> you are correct. >> can you tell me how this bonus payment system works for veterans when they are serving on active duty?
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>> some active duty soldiers receive bonuses based upon their specialty, but the majority of active duty soldiers do not receive bonuses. >> but on performance, can you tell me how the bone structure works for performance for active-duty military? >> there is none. >> that's correct. can you tell me about your own military service? >> i spent 34 years in the army. >> that is amazing that you will serve this country in uniform and yet you would be so tolerant to how this department treats our veterans. i think it is just absolutely extraordinary. how can someone go from the united states army to this environment and yet not take the values from the united states army into serving our nation's veterans? i think it is just absolutely extraordinary. and so, as you know, veteran bonuses, if we do call them that
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for realist purposes, are based strictly on occupational specialties. when people perform in the military they are rewarded through promotion, rewarded through various awards, but they are not financially driven, as they are in this department, which you seem to defend, this extraordinary system. and it seems to be the only thing that the department of veterans affairs is effective at doing is writing bonuses to each other. i think that is stunning. certainly not serving our veterans. not providing claims for the process. not providing health care and. certainly wait times to get these bonuses. you do not seem to want to come down on these people for doing
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this. you ought to be outraged. you ought to be outraged at the manner that these veterans are treated based upon your own background. you ought to be outraged, but you are not. it is all status "to you. it is, things are good. maybe they could be better, but things are good. things are not good. this is the most mismanaged agency in the federal government , yet it is entrusted with honoring our commitment to those men and women who may a extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of this country. i have to tell you, i think we would be better served as a nation if you were working outside of the veterans administration and not in sight. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as assistant secretary for human resources, i am sure much of a conversation today is first impression conversation about metrics and appropriate metrics
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and how they are reviewed. i assume there have been many conversations within the department already in the wake of the crisis about how performance awards are distributed based upon which metrics present an accurate assumption. >> so much so that i think that chair has said already there will be no awards for vha. >> so with in the discussions are based upon your knowledge -- even if it is not factual, even if it is hearsay, are you aware of any metric that has been included in any executive's bonus or performance award system reducing the incidence of non va care at a facility? >> i am not aware, to my knowledge, that they have written metrics to this point other than taking up the 14 day. >> i don't mean right. i mean from existing bonus plans and identifiable metrics from
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2010-2013, whatever has been reviewed were generally. are you aware of any metric that has been used to award a bonus based upon reducing the incidence of referral to a non va care? >> i am not aware. i want to get back to you. >> this is something that can be looked at? >> it's certainly can't. >> to document for the record, if i were to send a letter, would it be appropriate to send that to you? >> yes, congressman. >> i think representative o'rourke asked a question about reducing cost. that is not a metric you are aware of either? >> it is just that i am not aware of it there. >> i understand. the last question is this, and maybe you can clarify a little bit. you referred to almost an expansion of the review process, an additional layer of review that has been built in, and you have been there since september. maybe as a question about your impression -- this really isn't
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a va question but we often are asked to my ask the question of the time and a number of constituents to. how this government get so big? it seems like there is an awful lot of money being spent on a very dense bureaucratic process to ultimately come out of the back end and provide these performance awards. can we do better? is there a better way to streamline this? can we reduce employees actually assigned to that promise process i mean, just based upon what you said -- and maybe you can clarify -- it seems like there are a lot of bureaucratic infrastructure behind the process of determining what metrics need to be met and evaluating those metrics which at the end of the day, as we have heard a thousand times -- everyone is on the right side of the curve and talking about average. can we save money? >> i concur it is worth looking at streamlining the process. >> to you know if the acting
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secretary is looking at streamlining the process? >> at this time i do not think that is what his intention is immobile we will definitely discuss it. >> okay. thank you, mr. chairman. ..
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no reason to move forward on the bonuses. may 7th, 2013, mr. glen hagstrom was before the committee, in charge of overseeing construction projects which we determined had massive failures and cost overruns, and i asked mr. hagstrom a lot of questions, and i asked him exactly why did he get the bonuses for three years, massive bonuses. he said he had no idea. he had no idea.
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how is there a connection between performance when, shazam, she bonus shows up in a paycheck. are there personal visits every time between the media supervisor and folks like glen hagstrom or simply paperwork. >> there should be a person visit. i cannot confirm there is. they should have seen the rating and understand that the rating they received is what is tied to the award amount, depending on your rating, depends on what percentage of an award you receive and that rating is based on their performance. >> according to mr. hagstrom's testimony on may 7, 2013 there was no such visit no such communication, and no connection, obviously, between performance and retention and his pretty significant bonuses. is that required in the rules and regulations, there's an annual meeting? >> i do not believe the meeting is required.
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>> no required meeting. so, exactly how does this improve performance? and no understanding of that. i presume -- and you've only been there nine mons and mongoose these -- i guess in the year december end of year evaluations for most folks and you have been through that with your folks immediately below you, right? >> no. they were just receiving their final evaluation when i arrived. >> mid-year evaluations -- >> oh, mid-year, yes, congressman. >> so the december evaluations, i in other words from the testimony, you didn't do go through the december evaluations or who did that? >> we didn't do mid- -- we do mid-year in the last 30 days, not in december. >> end of the year is december. what did you do during those evaluations, mite with your folks that worked for you? >> that's happening now. >> mid-year is usually how -- you went through this in
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december, though, correct? you came in september. >> i came in september, but -- >> no end-year. >> not in december. in fact in december we were just completing our performance review committees and performance review boards for the end of 2013 fiscal year. >> so you do those in june, mid-year, and then just once a year? >> the mid- -- just one mid-year. but you can counsel -- >> but at the end of the year -- >> september 30th. >> okay. so, your predecessor went through that and you came in there. >> correct. >> your predecessor was how long in the position? >> it was an acting and i think he was there a little over a year. >> thank you, mr. chairman, yield back. >> thank you very much. thank you, everybody, for being here. two quick questions, if you would. yesterday after requests being made at three separate hearings by members of this committee, multiple staff requests, the va
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did finally provide us limited information on the six members of the ses who were supposedly fired last year. subsequent to this information the staff has requested a briefing on that. can i have your commitment that briefing can take place within the week, not within a week? >> yes, mr. chairman. next week we'll have the briefing. >> and as the senior hr official at va, can you tell this committee, if you think that susan bowers should have given what we know now -- should have given mr. hellman a fully successful for higher review for last year? >> not if she knew what we know now. >> given that the review miss bowers gave-miss hellman was not a true indication of miss hellman's performance, would it have been your recommendation that the review given of miss
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bowers should also be re-evaluated and any bonus she has received rescinded? >> miss bowers retired. >> there's no way to go back after they retire. >> no. >> this is another one of the disciplinary actions that va takes that allows people to seal their benefits and not have anything taken back. >> mr. chairman, it was her right to retire. >> okay. any other questions? >> m-michaud. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i ask n. consent that miss kirkpatrick's statement being entered into the record as well as the association letter we received on april 19th -- june 19th. >> without objection. >> thank you. >> thank you, everybody, for being here today. thank you miss pharisees for being here. this meeting is adjourned.: are
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[inaudible conversations] >> the st. louis post dispatch announced it was dropping syndicated columnist george will from it pages after a controversial column he wrote about sexual assault on college campuses, calling its the supposed campus epidemic of rape and saying efforts to combat rape in hi words, make victimhood a cover vetted status that leads to -- >> george will, college has become the victims of progressivism, and i think the day we're recording the st. louis post dispatch announced they canceled your column. >> yes. this is my job. when dubious statistics become the basis of dubious and
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dangerous abandonment of due process, to step in and say, take a deep breath, everybody. what has happened is, the administration has said that one in five women in college experiences sexual assault. and that 12% of sexual assaults are actually reported. if you take that, only 12% of sexual assaults are reported, take the reporting, extrapolate from that, you don't come to anything like one in five. the administration's own statistics fall apart. beyond that, the office of civil rights rights and the department of education said, schools should adjudicate sexual assault charges by a bullpen -- pre
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spoon transof evidence and that means a love of young men and women in the sea or hormones and alcohol on campus, you'll have charges of sexual assault. and you'll have young men disciplined, their lives often permanently and seriously blighted by this, don't get into medical school, law school and you'll have litigation of tremendous expense as young men sue the colleges for damages done to them by abandonment of the rules of due process we have as a society evolved over many centuries and are now in dine jerry of casualty shoving aside. >> i had a letter that you know about, you answered it from senator bloomen tall, feinstein, casey, and balls win, that begin the letter by saying, having --
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let's see -- your thesis and statistics fly in the face of everything we know about this issue and you trivialize the discourage of sexual assault, putting the phrase in square quotes and treating the crime as a socially acceptable phenomenon. it as spreading epidemic and you legitimize the myths that victims and victim advocates have worked tirelessly to combat. >> what i said in the response, take sexual assault more seriously than they do because i believe society has correctly said that rape is second only to murder as a serious felony, and, therefore, when someone is accused of rape, it should be reported to the criminal justice system that knows how to deal with this, not with jerry built, improvised campus processes. second, i take, i think, sexual assault somewhatmer seriously than the senators do because i think there's a danger now oof
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defining sexual assault so broad will you it trivializes the seriousness of it. that when remarks become sexual assault, improper touching -- bad, shouldn't be done but it's not sexual assault. we blur distinctions that are important to preserve itch you -- if you believe, as the senators purport to believe this is it a serious matter. >> did you get any idea you would get this feed baeck and people calling for your head? >> i knew -- sure. the reason i wrote about it was there as a lot of passion involved, and it's what i do and what you're supposed to do. calling from -- calling for my head -- i have theories about this -- indignation is the default position of certain people in civic discourse. they go from a standing start to
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fury in 30 seconds. i think it hassing? to do with the internet. it's a wonderful thing. it has lowered, indeed erased the barriers to entry into public discourse, that's a good thing. unfortunately, the downside of this -- the downside to everything -- is that among the barriers to entry that have been reduced, you don't have to be able to read, write, or think. you can just come in and shout and call names and carry on. and we have all kinds of interest groups who think they're only going to get attention -- probably right, only will get attention if they're at maximum decibel level. so they south and say dish don't disagree with him. fire him. send him to jail, silence him. all that stuff. but these are like summer storms. they dissipate fast. >> the post stuck by you. they dropped the column and we have been watching him for a lot
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of years and have not been paying close enough attention. >> so they say. >> why do you think they really dropped you. >> i have no idea but i don't think they covered themselves with glory. >> over the years have you had much of this kind of reaction? >> not really. on some occasions one gets a lot of people -- but that's part of my job. >> you wouldn't take back any of the words you used. >> no, no. >> you can watch that entire q & a interview in the coming weeks on c-span. tonight on c-span2, part of today's faith and freedom coalition conference. first, newly elected house majority leader kevin mccarthy, ralph reid, former presidential candidate rick santorum, and congresswoman michelle bachmann. >> an f on transparency and freedom of information, and i think, like colleagues in
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journalism would give a similar grade where they're liberal or conservative. the freedom of information process is a joke. already well on its way prior to the obama administration, but this administration has perfected the stall, the delay, the redactions, the excuses, and really it's shocking because i feel very strongly that the information that they withhold and protect many times belongs to the public. we own it. but there's no sense of that when you ask for it. they covet it as if they're a private corporation, defending their trade secrets, rather than understanding what they hold is information they gathered on our behalf. >> emy ward waning journalist on the changing face of network news and her career. sunday night at 8:00 on c-span's q & a. >> c-span 2 providing live coverage of the u.s. senate floor proceedings and key public policy events, and every weekend, booktv, now for 15 years the only division network devoted to nonfiction books and
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authors, c-span2, create by the cable tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local cable and satellite provider. >> at the faith and freedom coalition conference, newly elected house majority liter kevin mccarthy talked about what he homes to accomplish as part of the republican leadership. also appearing at the conference, former presidential candidates rick santorum, herman cain, and congresswoman michelle bachmann, and new jersey governor chris christie. this is an hour and 40 minutes. >> thank you very much. very kind. yesterday was a big day. i got elected majority leader. you got to understand where i come from. i'm the grandson of a cattle rancher, the son of a
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firefighter, i had the opportunity to run for majority leader, only in america do we have this. [applause] but i want to start the way i started my acceptance speech in our conference. i want to thank my lord and save
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you all know the gibbing gibbine address, tower forefathers brought fortha new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. you read through and it he says but if we fail, government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall perish from earth. we weren't the strongest nation at the time but he said we're different than others. we're conceived in liberty and we're dedicated to the prop signature that everyone is equal -- proposition that everybody is equal. but if we fail at this, england and france could not solve the problem, only us.
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this one summer i was in israel a couple years ago and meeting with sharon perez. we were walking through jerusalem and he turned to me and said you live the greatest country on the face of the earth. think how powerful that statement is from someone who is not an american, who is the president of another country, saying about us. i said, thank you. i got very proud. put my chest out. thank you very much. the president says, you know what your greatness comes from. not for what you take, it's forat you give. you'll give the ultimate sacrifice of life into another country could have freedom. and with that freedom comes human rights and an economy. and i paused for a moment and i thought, think about it. since we became the world leader after world war ii, has there ever been another world war? no. there's been conflict, but not another world war. when we lead.
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there's never been another country or society like ours. and we should not be ashamed of that. we should lead with that. the second bit of advice i think abraham lincoln would say, gets elected in november 1860. sworn in, in march 1861. and those few short months, seven states leave the union. and i've read all of lincoln, i've studied him greatly, and never once have i ever herd him say it was james buchanan's fault. have you? lincoln would say this. take for where you are today and walk forward and find solutions. the future looks much brighter than what history is behind you. i think lincoln's third piece of advice would be, do not leave the tough decisions for a future generation.
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and in the house, we have a big debt problem. we have a growth in government. when a government grows, it breaks the family. government should not replace our family. our family should become stronger. if you think about it, the whole debate of slavery was taken during the creation of our country, but it was controversial so they said postpone it. the hundreds of thousands of young grandchildren had to die to decide it. the debt we have is the growth of government we have. we should not ignore it if it's a tough decision. we should lead and make the difference. as i look across and see ronald reagan and i say this quickly because i know of my time. and ronald reagan smiling and i want to remind you all, he is from california and he was a conservative as well. ronald reagan smiles and you think in today reside era whoa what reagan's advice be.
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when he ran -- think about the anytime which he ran -- it was the last time an american u.s. ambassador was killed, was jimmy carter. this current president is actually making jimmy carter look good, right? have you seen jimmy carter on tv lately? just now coming back. ronald reagan's running, americans are held hostage, the soviet union entered afghanistan, our president's response was not to go to the olympics. the soviet union says, great, we'll win more medals, don't come him said we'll defeat the soviet union. there were two germanys at that time. and tall the press says you have to have a plan, you have to have it written out. how can you defeat the soviet union. what ronald reagan said? we win, they lose. he believed it. they believed it. america believed it, and we won.
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those four little pieces of advice would go a long way today. i want to leave you with this. i know we're frustrated. i hear the message. and i want to pledge this one item to you, the same thing i pledged in the conference. we'll unite, we'll have the courage to lead, and the wisdom to listen, and we will turn this country back around. thank you very much and god bless. [applause] >> good morning. how are you doing? we had some people who rode some buss in this morning, right? well, don't fall asleep yet. i hope you slept on the bus. but i want to welcome all of you to road to majority.
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yesterday we had ted cruz, we had marco rubio, we had allen west, we had ambassador john bolton, we had senate minority leaders soon to be senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. we had senator john cornyn, and that was just the first day. and we are going to have an incredible lineup over the next two days. we're going to equip you. we're going to empower you. we're going to encourage you. and then we're going to send you back to your respective states, to build the organization that will turn out a record number of evangelical and faithful catholic voters and come november, harry reid will be retired as the majority leader of the u.s. senate. [applause] >> and frankly, it can't come
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soon enough. i want us to take stock this morning of the state of our country. and look out upon the fiscal, the cultural, and the foreign policy chaos that is america as we gather this morning. we are a nation that is $17 trillion in debt. which is equal to the entire u.s. economy. which is viewed by most economists as a red warning light that goes off on the dashboard and tells you, your engine is about to shut down. when your debt equals the size of your economy. that's never been true in the history of our country. even during world war ii. even during the cold war. and 40% of that debt has been run up in just the last five
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years. by this administration. we have between 65 and $85 trillion in unfunded entitlement obligations that we have promised to future generations and we have no way to pay, and that is not even included in the debt. last year for the first time since the social security system was created in 1935, the social security administration took in less money than it paid out. and by the year 2024 they will be unable to pay benefits to beneficiaries. and the system will either require a multitrillion dollar bailout, which we have no means to pay, or it will go bankrupt. we have an economy that has grown at a roughly one to two percent growth rate, an anemic


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